The impact of UK overseas aid on environmental protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation

Written evidence submitted by DfID office Malawi

Question 1. Please outline the specific developmental challenges Malawi faces (both environmental and non-environmental) and DFID’s country office approach and priorities.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with GDP per capita of $280. The economy is dominated by agriculture which contributes a third of GDP and 80% of exports. It faces a number of inherent challenges: landlocked, densely populated and growing fast, poor access to international markets, limited resource endowment, high HIV/AIDS prevalence and low levels of education and skills. Despite this the Malawian economy has grown by an impressive 7% a year over the last five years, which has mainly been driven by exports (mainly tobacco) and good harvests. To maintain this progress Malawi will need to identify new sources of growth, and tackle the binding constraints to private sector investment: an uncompetitive exchange rate, lack of access to finance, unreliable power supply, and poor access to markets.

Malawi has also made impressive progress on many MDGs in the past six years (poverty and hunger, under 5 and infant mortality, HIV treatment, access to water, even maternal mortality although this remains high). But this is from a low base and gains are fragile to the weather, external price shocks, rapid population growth and changes in donor plans. 90% of the poor are small or medium scale famers, and their crops (and hence food and incomes) are heavily dependent on the single unreliable rainy season. As a result the recent gains in growth and poverty reduction remain fragile.

The main current environmental challenges are the loss of forest cover (the de-forestation rate is currently estimated to be between 1% and 2.8%) (FAO 2010) and land erosion and degradation. Forests are primarily being lost through the widespread reliance on firewood for cooking and heat (and, particularly when crops fail, income), and increasing use of land for settlements and agricultural. The risk of land erosion and degradation comes from unsustainable farming practices, deforestation and weather variability (with Malawi regularly facing droughts or floods in isolated areas – which are likely to increase with climate change). More positively Malawi has the lowest carbon footprint in the world, with almost all its production of power coming from hydro-stations. A challenge for the future will be to support Malawi to continue to develop in a way which doesn’t significantly increase its impact on the environment – particularly given the pressures to produce more power and identify new sources of growth (such as mining).

DFID is one of the largest donors in Malawi, with a programme of up to £80m in 2010/2011, supporting the Malawian Government’s Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS). Our Country Plan focuses on three areas:

· good Governance, including access to justice and public financial management;

· Growth and Resilience including agriculture, water and sanitation, access to finance, energy efficiency and private sector development; and

· Human Development especially health, HIV/AIDS and education.

As with all DFID programmes, DFID Malawi’s programme is being reviewed as part of the Bilateral Aid Review, with a new Operational Plan being drafted for the four years 2011-15. DFID Ministers will be communicating the details of future plans shortly.

Question 2. Has DFID Malawi undergone the Strategic Climate Programme Review yet? If so, what were the outcomes? If not, when is your Strategic Programme Review scheduled?

Malawi was not targeted as one of the Strategic Climate Programme Review (SCPR) pilot countries, and is therefore yet to implement a SCPR. We plan to implement a SCPR during the four year (2011-2015) timeframe of our new Operational Plan. The date will be confirmed as part of finalising our Operational Plan, but our intention is to implement the SCPR as early as possible in the four year cycle to maximise its impact on our programmes. We are closely following the ongoing pilots in other countries to ensure we learn lessons for our own Review.

Question 3. How does DFID Malawi manage the tensions between development and environmental protection?

The answer to Question 4 below, covers both Questions 3 and 4

Question 4. What is DFID’s environmental impact in Malawi? How do you ensure DFID Malawi does not have a detrimental environmental impact?

DFID Malawi manages the tensions between development and environmental protection by ensuring that all its development projects are subjected to serious environmental screening. Up until December 2010, all projects over £1m were required to complete formal environmental impact assessments. An example of this – the Environmental Screening Note for the Input and Maize Markets Interventions 2007-11 project – is attached. Since January 2011, all new DFID projects, regardless of value, have to complete a Business Case based on HM Treasury’s ‘five case’ model. The second of these five cases, the Appraisal Case, includes an explicit consideration of the project’s likely impact on the environment and on climate change. For all interventions the focus is on a) minimising and mitigating negative impacts on the environment or on climate change, and b) maximising positive impacts on climate change or the environment offered by the intervention. Our aim is to pursue development without compromising the environment and natural resources, so that the future wellbeing of Malawians is not sacrificed for today’s development.

We therefore assess DFID’s environmental impact in Malawi on a project by project basis at the planning stage. Examples of this are given in the answer to Question 6.

We aim to use our programme to help the Government of Malawi tackle some of the major environmental challenges. Malawi’s agricultural based economy depends heavily on natural resources, and particularly soil. Agricultural productivity has been declining due to severe soil degradation, and particularly declining soil fertility. DFID supports the Government of Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme, which provides affordable fertiliser and seeds to 1.6 million households. The programme has been responsible for reversing the declining soil fertility and improving agricultural productivity. DFID has also been a key player in the development of the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach (ASWAp). This is the Government’s investment plan for agriculture. One of its five pillars is on sustainable land and water resource management. The ASWAp should help ensure that the development of Malawian agriculture is sensitive to the sustainable use and management of the environment and natural resources.

DFID Malawi has recently approved a new five year Enhancing Community Resilience Programme. This will help communities manage their natural resources better, adapt to current climate variability and cope with future climate change. The programme includes support to communities on conservation agriculture, forest management and tree planting, flood defences, irrigation, renewable energy and water harvesting. We are also supporting the Government of Malawi to develop a comprehensive climate change strategy to help them effectively respond to future impacts of climate change in a coordinated way.

Another key challenge is Malawi’s limited availability of power. We are supporting the Government to roll out an energy efficient lighting programme to help address problems with power shortages while putting Malawi on a low-carbon growth path. This aims to transform the market for light bulbs in Malawi from energy inefficient Incandescent Bulbs to energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights, which is estimated to reduce current peak demand by 20%.

We also aim to ensure that we and our partners are aware of positive and negative environmental impacts of major programmes which may have an impact on the environment, and how to manage these. For example, we are working closely with other Development Partners to convince the Government of Malawi of the need to conduct a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme – work which is currently being tendered in anticipation that it will go ahead.

On climate change, DFID, the British High Commission and the British Council have a Joint UK Action Plan and active Green Team. DFID’s bilateral work focuses on local adaptation and energy efficiency. We have provided seed funding to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to lead on national strategic / voice work, and the World Bank on carbon finance mechanisms which have significant potential to leverage resources to protect Malawi’s dwindling forests.

Question 5. Please could you provide details of the major projects funded by multilateral donors in Malawi.

A comprehensive list of ongoing projects, from the Government’s donor database, is attached.

Question 6. Details for the requested projects follow.

3. Input and maize markets interventions 2007-11 (113415) – FINANCIAL AID COMPONENT

8. Input and Maize Markets Interventions 2007-11 (113456) – TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE COMPONENT

Rationale and objectives

The DFID Input and Maize Markets Interventions project provides support to the Government of Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP). The FISP provides subsidised fertiliser and seeds to 1.6 million vulnerable Malawian farmers each year. This flagship Government Programme, along with good rains, has helped enable Malawi to be food self sufficient for the five years since the programme began, after decades of reliance on external food aid. The FISP has increased Malawi’s maize harvest by around 750,000 tonnes a year, and the use of high yielding maize varieties by at least a third. The DFID project provides funding for the seeds element of the programme (providing 2.5 million people with affordable seeds in 2010/11) and for management, monitoring and evaluation of the whole programme.

The purpose of the project is to increase agricultural production and the development of Malawi’s fertiliser, seed and maize markets. The objectives are to:

· Promote the use of high quality seeds, and uptake of legumes, through the seed subsidy.

· Increase the participation of the private sector in the procurement and distribution of seeds in order to strengthen the agricultural input market.

· Generate monitoring and evaluation evidence to inform programme development, including evidence on efficiency, effectiveness, impact and value for money.

· Develop a variety of market based risk management tools (such as macro weather insurance).

Environmental impacts

· Increased yields are likely to lead to reduced pressure to open up additional land for cultivation, which will have a positive impact on the rate of loss of forest cover.

· Chopping trees to sell for firewood and charcoal is a common coping strategy for households when their crops fail. Increased food security should reduce the need for households to resort to this strategy.

· Soil mining is a critical environmental problem facing Malawi. Increased fertilizer use replenishes some of the nutrients being mined.

· A more specific environmental threat from increased fertilizer use is the possibility of fertilizer run-off and contamination of drinking water sources. This threat has not been assessed to date, but will be included in the forthcoming Environmental Impact Assessment.

One of the aims of the DFID technical assistance is to ensure the Government and donors fully understand the environmental threats and opportunities, and are able to maximise the opportunities and minimise the threats. DFID is currently finalising a contract to conduct a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment of the FISP, on behalf of the Government and development partners. This will inform our future support.

Deliberate or unplanned?

Most environmental impacts were foreseen (and in that sense deliberate).

Project funding breakdown

· Financial Aid: £18.4 million (Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Logistics Unit; weather insurance; improved seed subsidy; Global Positioning Systems to improve crop estimates (GPS))

· Technical Cooperation: £1.6 million (external monitoring and evaluation; independent monitoring of subsidized fertiliser sales and stocks; Environmental Impact Assessment; Civil Society monitoring of the programme)

Requirements/standards required of recipient

The project is subject to the Government of Malawi’s environmental policies and requirements. The Government has verbally agreed to carry out a specific, comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment of the Programme, which should be completed during 2011. We await Government confirmation of this in writing, and in anticipation of that are tendering for the work.


Government of Malawi (for the Financial Aid component); DFID, using numerous consultancy companies or NGOs (for the Technical Assistance).

Environmental Screening Note


4. Private sector led growth opportunities (113354)

Rationale and objectives

To provide analysis and technical assistance to explore and catalyse key opportunities for private sector led growth, and understand and tackle the key constraints

Environmental impact

The funding was used for technical assistance and analysis, so there was no direct environmental impact. Some of the analysis was used in ways which could potentially have an impact in the future. For example, it provided an analysis of the energy sector – which included looking at the potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency (such as recommending the roll out of energy efficient light bulbs, which the Government of Malawi is now taking forward with DFID support).

Deliberate or unplanned?


Project funding breakdown

Consultancies: £591,440

British Geological Survey: £38,560

FINSCOPE Survey: £200,000

Requirements/standards required of recipient



Government of Malawi and DFID, with various consultants (including British Geological Survey, FINMARK)

Environmental Impact Assessment

A formal Environmental Impact Assessment was not conducted, as this is not required for projects under £1 million.

5. Malawi unpaved road programme 2009-13 (200901) DESIGN

Rationale and objectives

This funding was used to help design a potential DFID unpaved road programme, and specifically to develop the first phase of the detailed design works and contracts.

The purpose of the potential programme would be to increase rural connectivity and reduce rural transport costs. This would be achieved by tackling the backlog of rehabilitation and maintenance work on the designated unpaved road network, and introducing a new less costly approach to road maintenance (based on the use of tractors rather than heavy equipment). This new approach, along with the rehabilitation of the unpaved road network, would mean the existing Government of Malawi recurrent budget allocations would be sufficient to sustain the roads in good condition. The goal would be to help tackle one of the key constraints to growth in Malawi (poor access to markets), reducing rural poverty by raising household incomes and agricultural productivity.

Environmental impact

There has been no environmental impact to date as the project has not been approved [the decision on whether to go ahead is on hold following the outcome of the Operational Planning process currently underway in DFID].

If the project went ahead, we would expect the environmental impact to be minimal. In-situ soil materials would be used for maintenance, with the use of imported and manufactured road building materials minimised. The improvement and maintenance of the road network condition should substantially reduce unit transport costs and vehicle related emissions due to higher efficiency of the transport vehicle operations (e.g. through shorter journeys).

Deliberate or unplanned?


Project funding breakdown

£100,000 for design works and contract

£9,000 for economic appraisal

Requirements/standards required of recipient

If the project went ahead, the rehabilitation and spot improvement measures would be designed in accordance with sound drainage engineering practices to avoid the risk of rain water dispersed along the roads causing erosion or siltation on farm or other land adjoining the road.


Government of Malawi

Environmental Impact Assessment

A formal Environmental Impact Assessment was not conducted, as this is not required for projects under £1 million. There is a draft Environmental Impact Assessment for the full roads programme (prepared under the private sector led opportunities project).

1. Climate C hange Action programme (200819)

2. DFID Malawi Climate Change Programme 2009-11 (200904) [Both numbers refer to the same overall project.]

Rationale and objectives

The project has been designed to help the Government of Malawi plan for climate change, estimate the likely impacts and address the resulting challenges. Responses across Government to climate change are currently uncoordinated and inadequately mainstreamed in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS – the Government’s overarching policy document). The project will also help the Government of Malawi update current assessments and address weaknesses in data related to climate change. The project will develop medium to long term strategic responses to climate change in the country, and help harmonise climate change strategies with other MGDS policies.

The specific objectives of the project are:

• To develop an evidence-based strategic framework, and associated comprehensive funded programme, for managing the response to climate change in Malawi.

• To develop a strategic coordinated response to the challenges that climate change poses for sustainable economic development and national food security in Malawi.

• To address the problems that some communities are currently facing due to the impact of climate change by piloting projects on adaptation and mitigation.

Environmental impact

The project will focus on technical assistance and analysis so there will be no direct environmental impact. However the analysis will help promote the take-up of policies, strategies and programmes which would have a positive impact on the environment. These include:

1) Land Cover and Land Use Diagnostics developed to inform future development planning – including assessments of the potential for afforestation and other options for alternative land-use, with and without carbon finance, and consideration of the potential for other forms of environmental service payments,

2) Carbon finance investment analysis, which will contribute to an assessment of sustainable land use options,

3) Adaptation and Mitigation Interventions, including

• Improving the management of Malawi’s forests

• Establishing the basis for a functional hydrological monitoring and flood warning system

• Identifying priority areas for integrated rain water harvesting and catchment protection schemes, which help to minimise the impacts of floods and improve the resilience of agricultural practices to below normal rainfall conditions,

• Establishing a strategic planning process for investing in sustainable watershed management, including: restoration, protecting catchment areas and strengthening climate resilience, rain-water harvesting and sustainable land management practices.

Deliberate or unplanned?


Project funding breakdown

£990,000 to support the Government of Malawi’s Climate Change Programme comprising:

· £250,000 to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to support the Government’s climate change programme;

· £50,000 to the British Council climate change Voice and Debate project;

· £50,000 for climate change mainstreaming within DFID and the Joint Resilience Unit

· Up to £640,000 to the World Bank to support the Department of Forestry (currently being finalised)

Requirements/standards required of recipient

The project is implemented within the Malawi’s National Environmental Policy (2004).


Government of Malawi, British Council, UNDP and World Bank

Environmental Impact Assessment

A formal Environmental Impact Assessment was not conducted, as this is not required for projects under £1 million.

6. Dedza and Ntcheu Safe Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion and Capacity Building Project (103851)

Rationale and objectives

Concern Universal has been implementing the project with funding from the European Commission (EC) and DFID since July 2006. The aim is to improve water and sanitation in underserved areas of Dedza and Ntcheu.

The objectives are:

· To improve access to safe water supply and sanitation facilities and their management, in households, schools and health centres in Traditional Authorities (TAs) Chauma and Kaphuka in Dedza and TAs Champiti and Makwangwala in Ntcheu.

· To improve knowledge of key hygiene practices and achieve behaviour change, leading to a reduction of water borne diseases

· To increase capacity of local government service providers and community groups to effectively plan, lead and support water and sanitation development initiatives

· To increase community capacity to recognise and act on its rights and responsibilities in relation to development, gender, HIV/AIDS, and environmental management in relation to the provision of water and sanitation services.

· To establish effective systems for monitoring and evaluating the project.

Environmental impact

The construction and drilling of new boreholes, and the use of wood or burnt bricks as construction materials, have potential impacts on the environment.

The project incorporates a number of features that mitigate potentially negative environmental impacts, including:

· including aspects of water resources management in training courses, especially at the community level;

· observing health and safety measures on site to ensure protection of the environment and the workers;

· involving the beneficiary communities in the sitting of the boreholes and construction processes, and ensuring these are consistent with the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development on the sitting of boreholes;

· working with communities to promote the importance of planting grass and trees around their homestead and water points;

· installing drainage systems around the water points to reduce risk of contamination and erosion around the water point sites; and

· continuous evolution of borehole design to ensure good water yields and user friendly water point facilities.

Deliberate or unplanned?

Most environmental impacts were foreseen (and in that sense deliberate).

Project funding breakdown

DFID contribution to the project is £928,658, with the total project budget (including EC funds) being £2,814,633. The project budget is broken down safe water supply (39%), sanitation and hygiene promotion (33%), community mobilisation (16%) and management (12%).

Requirements/standards required of recipient

All drilling operations are conducted by Concern Universal, and have to follow the Government of Malawi standards and guidelines on the drilling of boreholes. The district councils and the communities in districts and areas where Concern Universal work are responsible for monitoring drilling operations and other works.


Concern Universal Malawi

Environmental Screening Note

A formal Environmental Impact Assessment was not conducted, as this is not required for projects under £1m.

8. Karonga Earthquake – Humanitarian Assistance (201516)

Rationale and objectives

The project has been designed to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to those made homeless following the December 2009 earthquake, and to build or restore houses for 600 of the most vulnerable families.

Environmental impact

There will be some environmental impact from the production and use of construction materials (e.g. cement, bricks, wood) and potentially the siting of houses. However there were actions taken to help minimise any negative impacts:

· The project supported the development of ‘Building Guidelines’ to ensure homes were safer, and more resistant to shocks and the environment such as earthquakes, storms and floods, when rebuilt. These guideline promoted the use of stabilised soil bricks which are more environmentally friendly than burnt bricks (although the use of stabilised soil bricks was not feasible for this specific project given the remote location and cost).

· The training given to beneficiaries promoted, and explained the value of, tree planting for people building houses, which is being reinforced by the construction experts on the ground.

· All wood purchased by the project was from the Government endorsed factory supplier.

Deliberate or unplanned?

Most environmental impacts were foreseen (and in that sense deliberate).

Project funding breakdown

Up to £200,000: UNICEF to provide emergency relief

£250,000: Malawi Red Cross, for emergency shelter

£500,000: Malawi Red Cross, for recovery and reconstruction

Requirements/standards required of recipient

The project is implemented within the Malawi’s National Environmental Policy (2004).


Malawi Red Cross, UNICEF

Environmental Impact Assessment

A formal Environmental Impact Assessment was not conducted, as this is not required for projects under £1 million. However, environmental issues will be picked up in the end of project evaluation to ensure we learn lessons and are able to understand and address any unforeseen negative impacts.

31 January 2011